Relationship marketing is when you retain your customers by not just providing a quality product or service, but to maintain a long term relationship with them that involves more than just sales pitches and direct marketing campaigns. This means communicating with your customers about things besides just your products and services, and driving them to your website for other reasons besides making a purchase. By building a strong and long term relationship with your customers, you are creating a trusting a loyal business relationship.
What does relationship marketing look like in today's web-based, impersonal world? Of course for some companies, face time is valuable; taking customers out for coffee, sponsoring an event for top customers. That is expensive and not always appropriate. There is also web based relationship marketing where you get involved in issues and topics that your customers care about. You get them involved, keep them up to date and share information and ask for information from customers. A back and forth exchange of information, ideas and collaboration. This helps your customers engage with you in a non-transactional way, and you become trusted partners and friends instead of just impersonal, business customers.
How can social media help foster relationships between businesses and their customers?
Social Media such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram... they are a great way to share information and get instant feedback from customers. They help create a sense of community between the customers and the business, and lets the business have a persona instead of just being a source of information like a website.
Engaging your customers daily through social media strengthens the relationship between the business and the customer, and allows them to interact on a more informal yet professional level. When customers engage with the businesses, those businesses will be in the forefront of the customers minds when it comes time to make a purchasing decision.